The World Health Organization (WHO) has on Tuesday 6th October 2020 donated handwashing stations to the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education in order to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The event took place at their World Health Organization Office at King Harman Road in Freetown.

Speaking at the event, the Acting WHO Rep, Dr.  Steven Valebo Shongwe said the Covid-19 pandemic has affected many lives and livelihood globally, which is over Thirty-Five Million (35,000,000) people, of which over One Million (1,000,000) deaths have been reported globally, he referenced.

He explained that Sierra Leone recorded it first confirmed Covid-19 case on 31st March 2020, adding that as of 5th October, 2020 there have been Two Million Two Hundred and Sixty-Nine (2000269) confirmed Covid-19 cases and Seventy-Five (75) deaths in the country.

He furthered that in response to Covid-19, countries around the world have implemented several public health measures (PHSM) which included closing and partial closing of schools.

He emphasized that the reopening of schools should be guided by a risk-based approach to maximize the educational and health benefit for students.

He noted that they know that school is a vital point of contact for public health and safe guarding services that are critical to the wellbeing of children and families.

Dr. Steven Valebo Shongwe expressed that given the improved position in the country at the moment, the balance of risk is now overwhelming in favor of students, the benefits of being back in schools far outweigh the risk from Covid-19.

He continued that a risk adjusted strategy is being implemented in the reopening of schools, vocational training institutions and universities.

He maintained that the government has highlighted that higher education institutions must ensure that their infrastructures and facilities meet the requirements for the resumption of staff and students.

He continued that the public health and vice guidance focuses on the use of facemasks in schools, vocational institutions, colleges and universities.

He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) to ensure that these public health measures are instituted in schools.

The Acting Rep of WHO, Steven Valebo Shongwe handed over 50 handwashing stations (200 litters complete with stand and bin), 300 units’ soap, 15,000 cloth masks.

In his remarks, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Aiah Gbakima maintained that he had paid a curtsy call at the WHO Office discussion and training and made a request which was successful.

Prof. Gbakima stated that they have not yet recorded any positive case of Covid-19 on campuses, adding that the ministry is working very well with the Covid-19 Response Team for monitoring and updates.

He expressed their joy as a ministry and a government and thanked WHO for the kind gesture.